So why does one even care about how to save files and name folders ?
If your only working by yourself and not sharing any files with anybody else, the file and folder structure is absolutely your own. You might be a Master of Chaos - i know some super creative persons who are "Masters of Chaos" - some keep all their files in one folder per project and deliver top high end content every time. But in most cases pro productions have more than one person involved. This goes all across a vast variety of productions, from Print, Web, Event, Audio, Motion/Movie orientated productions to industrial design and cross over productions.
If you work together with more than 2 people it may already be a good idea to start thinking commonly about files and folders. Applying basic rules makes your life so much easier in the long run. Is it hard to do ? - The answer is No.
It takes approximately one work week where your brain have to think a few more seconds every time you hit the "save" or "save as" command. After that following some basic guidelines or rules just becomes instinctive - a logical process, that do not take any effort by your own all-embracing creative brain computer .Cheers.
So what is there to gain from this ?
Since this is the introduction i will take some more precious minutes of your life by telling the story that got my started on this.
A little over ten years ago i started in a new job as a Graphic Designer at a Pharmaceutical Company. They had a spiring creative department with really talented Graphic Designers. I was thrilled to start on this new job, it was not my first job, but never the less a bit different than the average Advertising Bureau. After two weeks i got a simple job to update a small rather nice looking folder. It apparently had a job number, so i started by looking at the file server - No luck. Since i was new i asked some of my colleges, but there reply was that this job was done by a designer that no longer worked in the department. So i started searches (it was a mac environment) found some files with the job number but not the folder file. The following days i opened up i a lot QuarkXpress files - It was madness. By the end of the week a file named "page 14" was the hit. Page 14!!! Wtf. The design was great, but how on earth would anybody save a file as "Page 14" unless it was a page 14 in some relation to another file. Never the less this incident was the reason i started to think about file names and folders.- So thank you Designer that named the "Page 14".
I stayed in that company for about 4 years and before i left, the Design Department had a whole new folder and file naming structure. I brought it to the table and the rest was developed over a week by the Designers and the Managers. Through meetings and discussions and dummys a common ground was found that everybody could live with.
I made a complete new folder structure of more than 2500 empty folders, so that all files could be migrated from the old mess. I think it was a good solution at that time, but way to time consuming.
Had someone given this just a bit of thought from the beginning a colossal amount of time could have gone into creation rather than tiring searches or in many cases re- production of something that could not be found. I my self is a creative person and i prefer to spend most of my working time being creative, not sorting other peoples mess.
Now after more than twenty years in the business i still come across badly managed files, inconsistent file naming, folder structures and people who never gave it a thought. Just imagine if we had never tried to lock down our alphabets - nobody would understand anything and phone sms messages shortend codes would not make any sense either.
What im´ saying here is that File Naming is actually a language of itself. In commercial creative business we need to strife for a better exchange rate with less hassle and more time to the essentials - being creative. For that guidelines, rules, structures can help a lot but most importantly the user (Yes You Too) need to keep in mind that your work will be handled not only by you, but possible by a lot of other internal as well as external users. You are working in a global environment more then ever, therefore you need to think globally not locally. Will a Chinese production house be able to understand your files and folders, will your new college be able to understand? - you get the point i hope.